Work Green, Earn Green

WorkingNation, Hosted by Jay Tipton

Work Green, Earn Green hosted by Jay Tipton, a former WorkingNation producer and current environmental protection scholar, who is on a mission to not only find out what a green job is, but where they are today, where they’ll be in the future, and how American workers can land one.

Iowa’s SOS call: Save Our Soil!
Jul 1 2022
Iowa’s SOS call: Save Our Soil!
For Jay’s first foray into the corn belt, he makes a visit to Living History Farms, where Elizabeth Sedrel explains that back in the early 1800s, European settlers established an agricultural-based economy in Iowa due to its rich, fertile soil. As the population grew and technology advanced, production optimized and Iowa became the nation’s leading producer of corn. However, all those years of tilling soil has resulted in nutrient depletion and major greenhouse gas emissions – but that’s not to say these changes are irreversible. John Gilbert of Gibralter Farms explains that there are six steps farmers can employ in order to regenerate the organic matter that Iowa’s soils have lost, which, if these practices reach scale, can suck a whole lot of C02 out of the atmosphere. To delve in deeper, Jay first speaks to Rick Cruse, an agronomy professor at Iowa State University, who informs him that viability of agricultural production within the state depends on soil health, but new practices have been difficult to deploy because farmers aren’t seeing the cost benefit. So Jay chats with Tim Youngquist, a farmer liaison with the STRIPS Program, to see how precision data is helping farmers see how devoting a fraction of farmland to native prairie grasslands can boost their bottom line. Next, Jay hears from Adam Ledvina about how technology is revolutionizing the art of grazing livestock, which he has turned into a prescription service that helps farmers expedite the process of clearing leftover crops and converting them into fertilizer by way of GPS-trackable goats. But as with any green effort, there is the issue of getting to scale. Fortunately, Robert Bonnie informs us that the USDA has put forth a billion dollar proposal for farmers and landowners to come to them with carbon-reducing projects. With this financial incentive, there is not only the potential for these methods to scale but also the opportunity for Iowa to further monetize their efforts in carbon markets, which will need to grow fifteen times their current size by 2030 in order for corporations to reach their net zero targets, according to climate finance expert Sean Penrith. CREDITS: Featuring: Jay Tipton, Elizabeth Sedrel, John Gilbert, Rick Cruse, Tim Youngquist, Adam Ledvina, Robert Bonnie, Sean Penrith, Paula DiPernaProduced by: Mike ZunicExecutive Produced by: Melissa Panzer, Joan Lynch, Art BilgerWritten by: Jay Tipton, Mike ZunicTalent Producer: Emily LallouzAssociate Producer: Diana AydinEdited and Sound Mixed by: Lynz FlorenAssistant Editor: Mengfang YangMusic by: Avocado JunkieMade possible by: the Walton Family Foundation
The Mississippi moonshot
May 20 2022
The Mississippi moonshot
In terms of rankings, Mississippi is not only the poorest state in the nation but also the most heavily polluted. As home to major players in the crude oil and petrochemical industries, leadership has been reluctant to pass environmental initiatives. However, all is not lost because Mississippi’s geological and geographic assets have caught the attention of a few alternative fuel companies that could spring the state forward to become a national leader in the green economy. To get a sense of direction, Jay first speaks with Sara DiNatale, a Mississippi Today reporter who covers business, economy, and labor within the state. Sara explains that the state’s workforce is more preoccupied with finding higher paying jobs than worrying about environmental concerns, but one industry has gained traction: wood pellet manufacturing. Jay then chats with Jonathan Green, executive director of the STEPS coalition, who opines that the environmental damage the state has incurred has rendered it a blank slate with the potential for radical redevelopment. One company seizing opportunity in Mississippi is Enviva, a biofuel company that manufactures wood pellets to be used as a replacement for coal. Kim Lloyd, Enviva’s director of human resources, describes how Enviva is offering significantly higher wages while also reducing the company’s environmental impact through sustainable forestry. To get a better sense of how a biofuel plant may affect the local economy, Jay phones George County Community Development & Communications Director Ken Flanagan, who sheds light on how pellet manufacturing is providing a new market for the state’s long-suffering forestry and timber industries. Looking ahead, Jay interviews Claire Behar, CCO of Hy Stor Energy, about how Mississippi’s coastline has all the right ingredients for green hydrogen to finally go from pipedream to pipeline. In fact, the company’s partners at the University of Southern Mississippi, including geophysicist Dr. Jason McKenna, are already betting on Hy Stor’s success by developing certification programs for this new energy source, which they believe has the capacity to decarbonize maritime transport. CREDITS: Featuring: Jay Tipton, Paula DiPerna, Sara DiNatale, Jonathan Green, Kim Lloyd, Ken Flanagan, Claire Behar, Jason McKennaProduced by: Alicia Clark, Mike ZunicExecutive Produced by: Melissa Panzer, Joan Lynch, Art BilgerWritten by: Jay Tipton, Mike ZunicTalent Producer: Emily LallouzEdited and Sound Mixed by: Lynz FlorenAssistant Editor: Mengfang YangMusic by: Avocado JunkieMade possible by: the Walton Family Foundation
A very special Earth Day episode
Apr 22 2022
A very special Earth Day episode
Friday, April 22nd, 2022, marks the 52nd anniversary of the beginning of the modern environmental movement, more commonly known as Earth Day. However, unlike most holidays, birthdays, and other annual celebrations, the meaning surrounding this global event has evolved over the past five decades as the understanding of our environmental impact has grown. To dive a bit deeper into the semantics, Jay hosts a dialogue with environmental consultant and special advisor to the CDP Paula DiPerna about how the intentions behind Earth Day have shifted throughout her storied career, and how they could still stand to become more impactful. Beyond Earth Day itself, Paula and Jay discuss other words and phrases commonly associated with – and used in conjunction with – the green economy, whose meanings have been watered down or misappropriated over the years. Terms like “sustainability,” “carbon pollution,” and “net zero” are all ripe for picking as their ubiquity has stripped them of any tangible outcomes or environmental benefit. Jay and Paula conclude with suggestions for how we can use language to our advantage in driving home how significant our planet is, especially in today’s day and age when the domestic and global economies are so indelibly linked to the availability of natural resources. Because at the end of the day, more clearly-defined environmental protections begets a more robust economy, and with a more robust economy comes many millions of life-sustaining jobs. CREDITS: Featuring: Jay Tipton, Paula DiPerna Produced by: Alicia Clark Executive Produced by: Melissa Panzer, Joan Lynch, Art Bilger Written by: Jay Tipton, Alicia Clark, Mike Zunic Talent Producer: Emily Lallouz Edited and Sound Mixed by: Lynz Floren Assistant Editor: Mengfang Yang Music by: Avocado Junkie Made possible by: the Walton Family Foundation
The electrification of Illinois
Apr 11 2022
The electrification of Illinois
With the signing of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act into law, Illinois has become the first coal-producing state – and the first midwestern state – to commit to a carbon-free future, and the bill was proposed in part by the state’s labor unions. To get a sense of the scale of the goals CEJA lays out, Jay speaks with environmental expert Paula DiPerna, who ran the Joyce Foundation out of Chicago and founded the Chicago Climate Exchange. Paula explains that what sets Illinois apart from other states is that their union leaders have stopped trying to hang on to legacy jobs and have instead embraced the burgeoning green economy. Jay digs in a little deeper by chatting with Pat Devaney, the secretary treasurer for the AFL-CIO, who explains how the unions saw the shortcomings of previous legislation and decided to put together a proposal of their own that guaranteed prevailing wage and labor standards on renewable energy projects. Next, Jay hears from Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks In Green, to hear how workforce development programs are providing not only pipelines to green jobs, but also pathways to business ownership for black and brown residents who have historically been shut out of the clean energy movement. And while on the subject of workforce development, Jay pops into Heartland Community college to hear from administrators, teachers, and students about how auto workers are preparing to meet CEJA’s most ambitious targets: getting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. And as the state works to electrify both its consumer and public transit, renewable energy developers will be erecting large-scale wind and solar projects. Jay rounds out his trip through Through the Prairie State by talking to Jon Carson, founder of Trajectory Energy Partners, about how well-suited Illinois’ rural farmlands are to provide the groundwork needed to meet the state’s growing energy demands. CREDITS:Featuring: Jay Tipton, Paula DiPerna, Pat Devaney, Naomi Davis, Keith Cornille, Mike Deavers, Kyle Klein, Jon CarsonProduced by: Alicia ClarkExecutive Produced by: Melissa Panzer, Joan Lynch, Art BilgerWritten by: Jay Tipton, Alicia Clark, Mike ZunicAssociate Producer: Eve BilgerTalent Producer: Emily LallouzEdited and Sound Mixed by: Lynz FlorenAssistant Editor: Mengfang YangMusic by: Avocado JunkieMade possible by: the Walton Family Foundation
Arkansas: Rice, rice, baby!
Mar 18 2022
Arkansas: Rice, rice, baby!
As home to several major food corporations, nearly every food in the grocery aisle ties back to Arkansas in some way, shape, or form. One common denominator: rice. As both a staple food and a key ingredient in a multitude of processed foods, the state’s cash crop is grown not on major industrial farming operations, but on 2,300 individually-owned family farms that have been passed down from generation to generation. However, as clean as a bowl of rice may sound, it packs a dirty little secret: methane emissions. In order to assess just how green rice farming truly is, Jay speaks with fourth-generation rice farmer Jennifer James, who discusses the farming technologies helping her to conserve water and soil in hopes of preserving the land for her son. To get a better sense as to whether Jennifer’s green efforts are representative of the industry as a whole, Jay chats with Riceland’s VP of Sales, Mark Holt, about how the farmer-owned co-op works to process, sell, and distribute the farmers’ yields, all while disseminating environmentally-friendly practices that trickle down from food manufacturers. One of rice’s biggest purchasers happens to be Anheuser-Busch, so Jay calls upon Agronomy Manager Bill Jones to explain how a brewery is helping green initiatives get to scale via model farms and strategic sourcing programs. Looking forward, Jay learns from Dr. Alton B. Johnson, director of the Rice and Research Extension Center at the University of Arkansas, about the methods going into developing new strains of rice that will require less water and, in turn, emit less methane. He’s also shocked to hear about the innovative ways in which Riceland is putting its rice waste to use in hopes of offsetting some of the crop’s less desirable greenhouse effects. Finally, Jay speaks to Jennifer’s son Dylan about how college is helping Arkansas’ future farmers be on the cutting edge of rice innovation. CREDITS:Featuring: Jay Tipton, Jennifer James, Paula DiPerna, Mark Holt, Bill Jones, Dr. Alton B. Johnson, Dylan JamesProduced by: Alicia ClarkExecutive Produced by: Melissa Panzer, Joan Lynch, Art BilgerWritten by: Jay Tipton, Alicia Clark, Mike ZunicAssociate Producer: Eve BilgerTalent Producer: Emily LallouzEdited and Sound Mixed by: Lynz FlorenAssistant Editor: Mengfang YangMusic by: Avocado JunkieMade possible by: the Walton Family Foundation
Colorado provides the green-print to success
Mar 1 2022
Colorado provides the green-print to success
As a former fossil fuel state that has swung both red and blue, Colorado has become a national leader when it comes to green innovation. To better understand how the state could give rise to so many environmentally-friendly enterprises, Jay speaks with professor of entrepreneurship Jeff York who explains the three factors Colorado has working in its favor: renewable energy standards, an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, and a ubiquitous love of the outdoors.  Next, Jay sets out to see how businesses of all shapes and sizes came to call Colorado home. In the case of Motili, VP of Sales Matt Sallee reveals how a national HVAC provider pivoted into an energy efficiency operation. On a smaller scale, Eric Adamson of Tortuga Agtech explains why he picked Denver over Silicon Valley as the location to build his crop-picking agricultural robots. And for those of us with homegrown operations, Jay speaks with Ashley Tindall, founder of Soul Bean Roasters, a coffee roasting company with the goal of zero waste, to see how Fort Collins provided the opportunity to wed her passions for coffee and sustainability together. A trip to Colorado wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Rockies, and so Jay heads to Aspen to hear from world-renowned environmental activist Auden Schendler about how Colorado’s ski industries are adapting to shorter ski seasons, and to find out what green businesses they have invested in to provide proof of concept for scalable change. Finally, Jay talks to Mario Molina of Protect Our Winters to get a sense of the impact winter recreation has on the local economy. CREDITS:Featuring: Jay Tipton, Jeff York, Matt Sallee, Paula DiPerna, Eric Adamson, Ashley Tindall, Auden Schendler, Mario MolinaProduced by: Alicia ClarkExecutive Produced by: Melissa Panzer, Joan Lynch, Art BilgerWritten by: Jay Tipton, Alicia Clark, Mike ZunicEdited and Sound Mixed by: Lynz FlorenMusic by: Avocado JunkieMade possible by: the Walton Family Foundation
Keeping Louisiana’s head above water
Feb 11 2022
Keeping Louisiana’s head above water
From the Mississippi River to the Cajun Bayou, Louisiana is a state renowned for its close connection to water. While the gulf coast has blessed Louisianans with ample resources to develop robust seafood, shrimping, and shipping industries, it also comes with some troubling downsides. However, resilient Louisianans are finding green solutions to keep their blues at bay. To kick things off, Jay hears from nationally recognized expert in coastal policy Justin Ehrenwerth about how the Mississippi delta is losing land by the minute, and how coastal restoration projects may hold the key to rebuilding what has been washed out to sea. Next, Jay talks to water resource engineer Bob Jacobsen about the jobs associated with observing and monitoring groundwater levels in order to preserve Louisiana’s clean water supply. From there, Jay chats with Jessica Dandridge, Executive Director of the Water Collective, about the boom that green infrastructure businesses have experienced in the wake of Hurricane Ida, which decimated Louisiana’s fragile water infrastructure. While on the subject of hurricanes, Jay reaches out to resiliency expert Camille Manning-Broome for clarity on whether disaster relief and recovery jobs can be considered green. Her answer leads him to a local contractor, Kendra Graves, whose life changed after a burst pipe in her home inspired her to enroll in an environmental career training program. She speaks candidly to Jay about how this decision enabled her to start her own business helping others recover from water damage and flooding. Before hitting the road again, Jay speaks to Sunny Dawn Summers and Mervin Smith, co-founding leader and graduating senior, respectively, at New Harmony High School to see how environmental education is informing the next generation of workers about Louisiana’s water woes and priming them to find solutions. CREDITS:Featuring: Jay Tipton, Justin Ehrenwerth, Paula DiPerna, Bob Jacobsen, Jessica Dandridge, Camille Manning-Broome, Kendra Graves, Sunny Dawn Summers, Mervin SmithProduced by: Alicia ClarkExecutive Produced by: Melissa Panzer, Joan Lynch, Art BilgerWritten by: Jay Tipton, Alicia Clark, Mike ZunicEdited and Sound Mixed by: Lynz FlorenMusic by: Avocado JunkieMade possible by: the Walton Family Foundation Check out all the other podcasts here: Work Green, Earn Green
Pennsylvania steels itself for a green revolution
Jan 28 2022
Pennsylvania steels itself for a green revolution
In this week’s episode, host Jay Tipton kicks off his national tour in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of our nation. Here at the epicenter of a political divide between old and new energy sources, Jay speaks to historian Tom Foley about how closely linked the state’s identity is to the coal and oil industries. As he’ll come to find out, Pennsylvania has undergone several transitions in the past, each one serving the greater good of both the state’s citizens and the environment. For many Pennsylvanians, heritage is a huge source of pride, especially given the amount of family ties back to the coal, oil, and steel manufacturing industries. In order to see how green initiatives are affecting workers, Jay speaks with Tim Shippey, a union carpenter and bridge welder, about his most recent job completing a solar panel installation atop the same steel mill that employed his father. Next, Jay takes a closer look at entry level opportunities by talking to Ronn Cort, President & COO of Sekisui Kydex, a manufacturer of recyclable thermoplastics. Not only has Ronn’s company reimagined plastic as a renewable material, but he has also laid the foundation to instill purpose in his workers, breathing new life (and new talent) into the world of manufacturing. Before leaving PA, Jay chats with Walt Yakabowsky about the training programs available to both old and new workers looking to acquire green skills – and how much money they can expect to earn in their new lines of work. Finally, Jay connects with Philadelphia’s Chief Resilience Officer, Saleem Chapman, to discuss how Pennsylvanians of all backgrounds can promote equity by coming together in the large-scale effort needed to ready the state for climate change. CREDITS:Featuring: Jay Tipton, Tom Foley, Tim Sippey, Paula DiPerna, Ronn Cort, Walt Yakabowsky, Saleem ChapmanProducer by: Alicia ClarkExecutive Producers: Melissa Panzer, Joan Lynch, Art BilgerWritten by: Jay Tipton, Alicia Clark, Mike ZunicEditing and Sound Mixing by: Lynz FlorenMusic by: Avocado JunkieMade possible by: the Walton Family FoundationCheck out all the other podcasts here: Work Green, Earn Green
Shades of Green: Protecting the planet will call for millions of jobs — so what the heck are they?
Jan 14 2022
Shades of Green: Protecting the planet will call for millions of jobs — so what the heck are they?
Former WorkingNation Producer and current environmental protection scholar Jay Tipton is on a mission to land a career that will help him contribute to saving the environment. But before he can begin, he must first figure out the answer to the question: What is a green job? Jay interviews experts within the field to hone in on a concise definition, but the answer isn’t as clear as one might assume. With a growing number of job opportunities opening up in this sector, Jay explores the various definitions that analysts and the Bureau of Labor Statistics might use to classify and quantify what jobs are considered green. With so many differing opinions on how broad the term ‘green job’ is, how can the American worker determine whether a job opportunity falls under the green umbrella? And how can job seekers take their passion for saving the environment and turn it into a meaning career? In order to help them navigate the world of green jobs, Jay talks to experts in the recruiting and hiring field to discuss how the inclusion of green skills in the labor force can make any job greener — even those that don’t directly serve to reduce our carbon footprint. Finally, Jay zooms out to assess how climate change is reported on in the news, and how media coverage prefers to focus on the scale and impact of severe weather and natural disasters brought on by global warming as opposed to how climate resilient initiatives can create a wealth of opportunities for the American workforce. With so much attention placed on environmental devastation, it leaves little room for discussion about what sectors and industries could help achieve carbon-neutrality by stepping up their sustainability practices — and how, in turn, those solutions will lead to massive job creation. CREDITS:Featuring: Jay Tipton, Aniket Shah, Matt Sigelman, Paula DiPerna, Karin Kimbrough, Trish Kenlon, Yessenia FunesProduced by: Alicia ClarkExecutive Produced by: Melissa Panzer, Joan Lynch, Art BilgerWritten by: Jay Tipton, Alicia Clark, Mike ZunicEdited and sound mixed by: Lynz FlorenMusic by: Avocado JunkieMade possible by: the Walton Family Foundation